Kerala actor assault case: HC asks Sessions judge to investigate memory card leak

The memory card with visuals of the sexual assault had been accessed illegally thrice while in court custody – first on January 9, 2018, while it was in the custody of the Angamali Judicial First Class Magistrate court.
Actor Dileep
Actor Dileep
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In an important development in the actor assault case of 2017, the High Court of Kerala on Thursday, December 7, directed a fact-finding enquiry into the survivor’s allegations about the memory card which had visuals of the sexual assault. The survivor had approached the court stating that the card, which was in the trial court's possession, was accessed without authorisation, and that its contents were probably tampered with. Subsequently, the High Court has now directed the Ernakulam District and Sessions judge to investigate this.

Justice K Babu said that the District and Sessions judge shall conduct a court-monitored investigation into the alleged leakage of visuals of the crime from the memory card, and the change in its hash value while it was kept in court custody. The enquiry is to be completed within a month from December 7, and the survivor is at liberty to approach the court again in this regard.

Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, who appeared for the survivor, submitted that the memory card had been illegaly accessed three times while in court custody – on January 9, 2018, while it was in the custody of the Angamali Judicial First Class Magistrate court, on December 13, 2018, while in the custody of the District Principal Sessions court, and July 19, 2021, when 34 new files were created on the card, according to the counsel.

Popular Malayalam actor Dileep, who is the eighth accused in the case, had earlier approached the High Court asking for the survivor’s plea regarding the leaked visuals in the card to be dismissed. 

It was in June 2022 that news emerged about the memory card being tampered with. A report from the State Forensic Science Lab (FSL) in Thiruvananthapuram said that the memory card was accessed more than once in 2018 – once in January and once in December. The report also says that the hash value of the memory card had changed in the years it was kept in the custody of courts, indicating that something has been changed within it. Subsequently, the survivor approached the High Court, demanding an investigation into this.

Earlier, in May 2022, the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Judge Honey M Varghese had dismissed a petition by the investigating officer of the case, asking to examine if the memory card containing visuals of the crime was accessed after it was submitted at the court. The Judge said that the purpose of the petition seeking access to details of a document that was kept in the safe custody of the courts concerned is unintelligible and can be treated only as "ill-conceived and ill-motivated". Judge Honey will now investigate the memory card, but with the help of the police or another agency.

The survivor had also approached the High Court expressing concern about the agenda of Judge Honey, after the Judge’s letter to the forensic science lab in Thiruvananthapuram cropped up, in connection with the case.

It was in February 2017 that the actor was assaulted in a moving car by a gang of men, allegedly under the directions of actor Dileep. The men recorded their attack on video. Pulsar Suni, the first accused, had given a memory card with the visuals of the attack to an advocate, who in turn handed it over to the Angamaly magistrate court. After a forensic examination at the Thiruvananthapuram lab, the memory card and pen drive carrying visuals were returned to the Angamaly court, where it remained sealed for a year, up to March 2018. For a year after that, the memory card was kept in the Ernakulam Principal and Sessions court. Afterward, the trial of the case began and the card was kept in the trial court - Judge Honey's court.

Read: Alarming revelation in Kerala actor case: Assault visuals accessed twice in 2018

Read: Kerala actor assault: Judge Honey dismisses police plea on memory card access

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